Bangladesh and water pollutants from emanating from the HFO

Bangladesh being one of the most
densely populated countries in the world, has shown a remarkable GDP growth
rate of 7.24%, along with 78% electrification last year. Electricity is said to
be the bedrock input for production in the economy, where insufficient access
to energy (e.g. electricity) is a predominant characteristic of underdeveloped
economies. Thus, energy or electricity crisis mitigation is the top most priority
of the current government. However, economies in the past have strived to
achieve economic growth without emphasizing on the environmental issues. As
time progressed, the concept of development has undergone multidimensional
transitions, putting focus on sustainable energy development. However, in the
short-term, there seems to have a conflict between environmental policy and
economic growth. That is, various economic activity is portrayed as harmful for
the environment, while environmental policy is considered as putting an
impediment on the growth of the economy.

Following extreme power crisis in
2008, called for new policies to meet the current and future energy demand,
along with 100% electrification rate by 2021, the government has approved to
set 10 new power plants. One of them will be a 150MW diesel-fired power plant
at Ashuganj in Brahmanbaria district. Nonetheless, along electricity creation,
many harmful impacts will be observed due to the HFO power plant. For instance,
several pollutants including Sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead and
non-methane hydrocarbons are released. The untreated air, high noise levels and
water pollutants from emanating from the HFO power plants will affect the
beautiful flora and fauna of adjoining local regions of the country. For
instance, the workers and the local people living nearby might be prone to
respiratory or breathing problems, eye irritation, cardiac diseases, asthma,
lung cancer, congestive heart failure, skin burns, neurological problems, birth
defects, brain swelling etc. Power plants fueled by fossil fuels discharge
large amount of carbon dioxide. Since the start of the industrial revolution,
the atmospheric concentration of this gas has increased up to 40% and is
expected to continue increasing, due to new establishments of power plants and
little can be stretched about the harmful effects of carbon dioxide on environment
and human health in variety of places globally already.

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As the power plants use water from
the nearby lakes and rivers, the surface water is used often for plant cooling
and other plant processes. The large water-cooling process evaporates large
amount of water in the atmosphere, which is travelled to the local groundwater
aquifer or stream flow. When the stream base flow is reduced, it adversely
affects stream morphology, habitat, aquatic plants, promote algae growth, etc.
Although HFO fired power plants require less land space, they need large amount
of fuel supply line and even large tank of oil. This subsequently leads to
polluting the river and lakes, as oil spill kills the aquatic life and creates
harmful effects on the local community. The power plant will directly impact
the vegetation, as soil quality and fertility will decrease after the
establishment of power plant.

In order to minimize the harmful
effects of the HFO fired power plants, the fuel storage areas should be
enclosed to prevent oil spills. Reclaimed effluent and other forms of reclaimed
water for cooling water can eliminate the withdrawal and intake of ground
water, which will minimize the impacts of ground water resources.  Reclamation of mined areas would restore
terrestrial resources, and the negative impacts on the wildlife would be
temporary. The wildlife can return upon completing the reclamation.
Furthermore, construction of stream habitat features in the diversion canals
can help in reducing the problems for the local community. The government must
monitor upstream and downstream flows to assess if the adverse flow timing or
volume problems are occurring, so that proper measures can be taken
accordingly.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself
addressed the benefits of establishing power plants at Davos, 2018. Energy, in
the form of electricity is a strategic input to positively contribute to
socioeconomic security, food security, health security and environment
sustainability. But it can’t be achieved at the cost of environment. The
socioeconomic costs of poor management practice of power plants are equally
enormous and devastating. Hence, keeping the huge prospects and opportunities
into consideration, proper mitigation strategies, if employed will benefit both
the economy and the livelihood of the people. Favorable market development,
government regulations and improved port infrastructure, awareness building is
mandatory. 

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